In the latest issue:

Botanic Macaroni

Steven Shapin

What made the Vikings tick?

Tom Shippey

In the Lab

Rupert Beale

Will there be a Brexit deal?

Anand Menon

Short Cuts: Under New Management

Rory Scothorne


Bridget Alsdorf

Sarah Moss

Blake Morrison

Poem: ‘Country Music’

Ange Mlinko

On the Trail of Garibaldi

Tim Parks

Art Lessons

Peter Campbell

You’ll like it when you get there

Tom Crewe

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini

‘The Vanishing Half’

Joanna Biggs

At the Movies: ‘The Truth’

Michael Wood

The Suitcase: Part Two

Frances Stonor Saunders

Poem: ‘Siri U’

Jorie Graham

Diary: Getting into Esports

John Lanchester

The Reach of the SeaMaureen N. McLane
Vol. 42 No. 7 · 2 April 2020

The Reach of the Sea

Maureen N. McLane

425 words

Beach Rose

A beach where dogs should be leashed but aren’t. Low tide strands the seaweed and two dead seals no one can call to help. There’s no one to call for help. A shore of men’s trash, twine, bits of mooring line, the house of what was once alive no I didn’t per se find my beach! but there was Brace Cove, Niles Beach, Good Harbour, Pavilion Beach if you like the long reach of the sea carving the harbour the women made widows beseeched for miles and miles this unforgiving grey.

Have a Good Weekend

The schooners sail out of the harbour led by Adventure one of the last great fishing schooners on or from whom six or seven men died. Heart attacks, overboard. No one dies here today except the already dead seals lolling in the surf in Brace Cove – no they were not or did not seem to be sharkbitten. I think she caught lice, she says, Australian accent. It’s school. The 145' sloop from Texas the Columbia won the race. Dana’s boyfriend Jack sd someone called the Liberty Clipper a slug. One almost felt sorry – ships and their feelings. In Longfellow’s Wreck of the Hesperus, which foundered nearby, you hear the dire weather reporting from other ballads from Sir Patrick Spens but oh these kings and captains will go forth despite. The cork-heeled shoon. The little child lashed to the mast found by Norman’s Woe with her cold corpsey lips and frozen hair. A new fear overcomes me – as it did in the Hudson and in the quarry is it stalking me too in the shallow waters so near the shore.


The stream of back-to-school photographs light up the feed – how the people show! the children, growing, gendering, ungendering, the parents shedding tears for things and lightwritten nostalgic joy. I’ll show you mine you show me yours – your negativity, your embrace of the idea of Gondwanaland, our pummelled liveable lives. There are children in cages and protest; there are millions in rooms and concrete can be made several ways. The concrete is not only the real. The only real. All of the real. This wine, this pine, this chair, this birdfeeder – if I described it would you feel it? If he painted it? There was an overestimation of feeling on all the seas – sad cod, blue halibut, dead seals. One refused to reckon others. We continue to await salvation – I sit on a beach of soteriological sand. I think like everyone else.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences